Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Taking prisoners is awfully bad manners

It's hot in London. Or at least hot for London. Over 30 degrees Celsius and the city starts falling apart. Tempers flare as temperatures rise. I like hot sunny days so I am not complaining but I may just use it as my excuse to RANT.

I've had an AOL email account since 1996. That's a very long time in the digital world.

At the time I acquired it, it was a no-brainer: either have a sensible email address or plus my 56.6kbps dial up access.

These days I have Gmail accounts, Yahoo accounts, Hotmail accounts, other personal and work accounts but my aol address has been my default email forever, simply because I had it first. I've been paying then £5 a month or thereabouts for the privilege of running that (and a couple of accounts for my parents) even though I've only accessed it via webmail and not required dial-up/broadband access services for years.

Yes, arguably I should have cancelled it sooner but the cost of reproducing business cards, teaching my parents how to use a new browser etc was greater than the £60 p.a apathy cost. Then recently they wrote to me to say my dial-up tarif would no longer be available and they'd move me to a £10 a month tariff. Which was enough to nudge me out of apathy.

So I wrote to them and asked them whether I could cancel my access service I've not used for 5 years but have been paying for, but retain my account / email address etc, given that by logging in I am seeing their advertising so my eyeballs still have value against advertising impressions.

They wrote back and said yes of course I could cancel my access, but no I couldn't retain my email address, contacts, filed mail etc, instead I'd have to migrate everything to a Now what's the point in that?

Nor can I export my contacts via csv or other means to other accounts. I feel like I am being held hostage.

Taking prisoners in the digital world is very bad form. Making exit, transfer, account deletion, email unsubscribe etc easy should be a pre-requisite of an e-crm programme.

AOL have failed. Badly. They could keep me and my eyeballs or they could lose me & my parents and make a very vocal enemy in the process. Once I've found the time to transfer my contacts and key filed emails over it will be Arrivederci AOL.

Foolish and shortsighted.

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